The outcome of this Bicol Express Recipe can be described as pork cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and chilies. No wonder the name of this dish was derived from a Philippine region (Bicol) wherein Coconuts are abundant and the use of chilies is emphasized in most local meals.
Origin of Bicol Express
There are stories saying that Bicol express was conceptualized and first cooked by Ms. Cely Kalaw in her Manila restaurant sometime during the late 60’s to the early 70’s. Based on an article written by Angela De Leon entitled Soul Train: The Unlikely Beginnings Of A Beloved Filipino Dish (published in Chile Pepper Magazine last October 2006), Ms. Kalaw toned down the heat on her Taro dish (this could be “Laing”) after receiving complains from some customers. However, she knew that other customers wanted the Taro dish to be hot and spicy so she invented another amazingly spicy hot dish that would best compliment the Taro. Thus, Bicol Express was born.
But how was she able to come up with the name? As per Angela’s article, the taro incident and new spicy dish invention happened in just one day. Apparently, Ms. Kalaw finished cooking the new dish but still cannot think of any name for it. As lunch time drew nearer, she was getting anxious because the customers will soon flock-in and she has yet to name her newest masterpiece. At that moment, she heard the daily train to Bicol ramble by the window. It was the light bulb moment that she was waiting for.
The information in the article about the origin of Bicol Express might be true, or not. There are many claims that the original Bicol Express Recipe came from the Bicol region. We all know that Bicolano dishes are delicious and pretty looking so there is a big possibility that this dish really originated from the Bicol region. What do you think?
As far as I am concerned, I believe that this is truly an authentic Bicolano dish. It has been that popular to the point that different variations were created. Seafood Bicol Express is a good example of this.
Try this Bicol Express Recipe and let me know what you think.
Bicol Express Recipe
- 3 cups coconut milk
- 2 lbs pork belly cut into strips
- 1/2 cup Shrimp Paste
- 1 tbsp Garlic minced
- 6 pieces Thai chili or Serrano pepper
- 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 piece onion minced
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat a pan and then pour-in the cooking oil.
- Sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger
- Add the pork and then continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes or until the color becomes light brown
- Put-in the shrimp paste and Thai chili or Serrano pepper. Stir.
- Pour the coconut milk in. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes or until the pork is tender
- Add salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Serve Hot. Enjoy!